Children benefit greatly from having a positive relationship with their grandparents. Grandparents are another set of people who love your child unconditionally, and who your child will love in return. A recent survey featured on mumsnet.co.uk found that over half of adults in the UK learnt manners and respect from their grandparents, and a similar number said that they learnt right from wrong from their grandparents.
Learn From Their Experience
Grandparents are also a wealth of information, from whom children (and their parents) can learn a lot from. They are living historians, who provide a link to the past and their families' ancestors. They have also been through the child rearing process, which can prove very helpful to parents when they need help in how to care for a baby suffering from a cold, how to control temper tantrums, when to start potty training, and so forth. Grandparents also expose children to a different point of view; that of an older generation. Children can benefit from the wider range of life experiences grandparents possess as a result of having lived for longer than their adult children. Going to Granny and Grandpa's house also gives children an alternative environment away from home to explore their world in, but one in which they feel just as safe and loved.
Grandparents provide a different kind of relationship to your child than the one you have with them. As they are not responsible for the day to day care of your child, children often view their grandparents more as a friend, rather than the parents who have to be the disciplinarians, the ones who put them to bed etc. Studies have shown that grandparents are more relaxed and permissive with their grandchildren than they were with their own children, and as a result children often treat them as confidants - other adults apart from mum and dad in whom they can confide and get advice. Grandparents, alongside parents, can help mentor and nurture children, and can provide positive role models for children.
How Involved Should I Let Them Be?
The degree to which grandparents get involved in their grandchildren's lives varies greatly between families. Many grandparents haven't yet retired and still go out to work, or are retired but have busy lives of their own. Health issues can prevent some grandparents being as active in their grandchildren's lives as they'd like. Some grandparents worry about interfering too much, so keep a distance, even if they'd rather get more involved. If you sense that your parents are reluctant to get involved with their grandchildren, assure them that they are an important part of your child's life, and encourage them to spend time with your children. Some people don't feel particularly comfortable with babies, but are more interested in children when they are a bit older. The involvement of your parents and in-laws in your child's life may change over time, depending on various circumstances, but if you nurture their relationship and give them the chance to build up a close bond, they will develop a relationship which both grandparent and grandchild will treasure.
Occasionally however, you and your parents might clash on various childrearing issues. You and your parents might have different views on how to look after babies and raise children, but try and keep any issues just between you and your parents or in-laws. Don't let any tension you feel get in the way of your child's relationship with their grandparents. If you and your parents clash over child-related issues, call a family meeting (without the children present) and get all issues out in the open. Try to avoid getting angry, after all, they are your children and you are the one in charge.
In some situations, divorce or geographical difference can make it hard for grandparents to see their grandchildren as often as they'd like. In these cases, it's especially important for parents and grandparents to realise the positive role grandparents can have on their grandchildren's lives so that children don't miss out on this important relationship. Make an effort to get your children and their grandparents together regularly. Keep your children in touch with their grandparents in-between visits by phone calls, letters and emails, so that their grandparents can still play an important part in their lives.